30 January 2007

The 5th Annual winter camping trip

This past Saturday night was the annual winter camping trip. As stated in an earlier post, Chad and I started this tradition in 2002. This year only three of us made the trip, Chad, Dave, and I.

Chad was the first to arrive. He brought along his dad and son for the first part of the day. Isaac helped setup the tent and build the fire but had the most fun throwing rocks into the creek.

Dave and I arrived around 3:30 pm and got the tent and beds setup.
Then it was time to set back and enjoy the fire.

The night's menu consisted of cowboy beans prepared by yours truly. Cowboy beans are nothing more than some browned burger (I used venison burger), beans, onions, bacon (although I left it at home), and a few other spices. We got a hole dug to cook in, Chad placed some coals in the hole, I sat the dutch oven in the hole and Chad placed some more coals on top. After a few minutes we stirred and let cook for a few more minutes and it was time to eat. And was it good!!! Dave, who doesn't like beans, even loved it!

We all headed off to bed around 12:30am and crawled into our warm sleeping bags. There was some rain, snow, sleet that fell that night, but nothing major and the three of us decided when we got up that morning that it wasn't as cold this year as it was last year.

We got up Sunday morning and quickly got the fire going again as there were still coals left from the night before.
Once we warmed back up we started the not so pleasant task of taking down camp. That's always my least favorite part of camping. But I am already looking forward to next year's trip!

UPDATE: In response to a comment left about a previous post("It is Time"), I have found a website that has weather data from previous years. As soon as Chad and I can determine the dates from previous year's trips, I will post the temperatures from those camping trips. This year's trip was, as we suspected, not as cold as previous trips. The temperature at midnight was 36 degrees warming to 41 at 3 am and then falling to 31 degrees by the time we rolled out of our bags at 9 am!

26 January 2007

The song changes again

The songs on the blog are probably gonna change more often now...due in part to the fact that no one comments on what is currently playing, therefore, I can play whatever I like!

The new song is "Send me on my way" by Rusted Root. I was introduced to Rusted Root by a friend in Montana. A greart band in my opinion...and a great song! Enjoy.

This should surprise absolutely NO one

Saw this quiz on another website. I decided to take it for fun. Not a shocker here! :)

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The South

That's a Southern accent you've got there. You may love it, you may hate it, you may swear you don't have it, but whatever the case, we can hear it.

The Midland
The Northeast
The Inland North
The West
North Central
What American accent do you have?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

25 January 2007

It is time

...for the annual "freeze your butt off" camping trip. A very close friend, Chad Muri, and I began this tradition the year we both returned from living in Montana. Every year we gather at a remote camping spot on a forest service road near Mount Mitchell to hold our "cold weather" camping trip. This year seems to be shaping up to be one of the coldest! Currently the forecast calls for a low of 26 degrees on Saturday night.

For the first few years it was only Chad and I that would brave the cold.This picture was from the 2004 trip. Chad's Marmot tent is in the foreground and you can see my tent a little further back in the snow....obviously cold that year!

Last year we had some company, not only with us, but someone was actually in our traditional camping spot. Many forest service roads are closed during the winter and the one we choose to camp on is no exception. Since another party was where we normally stay, we adapted and moved up the road to the next available spot. That meant hauling all our gear and firewood further than normal.
Here, Dave hauls the firewood Chad has brought from the truck to the camp site.

Last year the trip was in March and Chad and I were joined by David Blythe and Jerry Bartle. This year's team looks like it will only be Chad, Dave, and I. With Chad and Dave already having boys of their own, and my boy on the way, I look forward to the trips that see us all sharing the joy of the winter camping trip together!
"Dave (sitting) and Chad enjoy the warmth of the fire while I (at the tent) only wish I was closer to the fire)"

Anywho, our trip is planned for this weekend, Saturday the 27th of January 2007 and the forecast is quite chilly. Check back next week for this year's pictures and stories...and as always, anyone is welcomed to join us! Just let me know if you want to come!

Until then.....

19 January 2007

New song

As Eddie says... a song about breaking your depression.

Enjoy! Pearl Jam: Down

Hurry home Shelly

A great friend of ours left yesterday for a month long stint in China. Her job requirements involve training the chinese to run certain machines that she has the MOST experience operating. Hurry home Shelly...we'll miss you.

Her blog can be found here.

18 January 2007

A quote from Appalachia

The book I have been reading is a comprehensive history of the Appalachian region. While extensive history and lore is recorded in it's pages, one passage stands out to me. And I quote:

'...There is no fundamental agreement even how to pronounce the word "Appalachia." Residents of southern and central Appalchia pronounce the term with a short a in the stressed third syllable; further north, the same a is given a longer pronunciation, as in "Appal-ay-chia." Most of the experts and bureaucrats who came from Washington and elsewhere to fix the region's problems beginning in the 1960's adopted the northern pronunciation, while resident experts favor the southern--which led to a situation, according to one commentator, wherein "people who said "appal-ay-chia" were perceived as outsiders who didn't know what they were talking about but were more than willing to tell people from the mountains what to do and how they should do it."'

And my point of view?.....there is only ONE way to pronounce Appalachia and IT IS NOT "appal-ay-chia"!!!

17 January 2007

Weird squatter

So I came home yesterday from work and went downstairs to get the woodstove going so the house would warm up since it was supposed to be (and was) downright cold last night. I get some wood from the porch, opened the door to the stove to toss it in and get it going, and I see a little fur ball hunkered down in the corner. Being startled, I instinctively slammed the door back shut. Once I regained my composure I reopened the door to take a look. The critter didn't so much as move a muscle so I used the fire poker to give it a little prod. Nothing...

So I nudged it a little harder. Still nothing. This obviously wasn't working so I reached in and picked up the little guy. STILL nothing. Now I'm thinking maybe it's dead.

Turns out it wasn't. What had moved in over night was a Glaucomys volens, commonly known as a southern flying squirrel. It would softly jerk ever so slightly and ever so often in my hand. Turns out, after doing some reading, that these little guys are completely nocturnal and it may take them up to 40 minutes to wake up!

Flying squirrels are "cavity nesters", meaning they find cavities in trees, etc. to make their home. Apparently this one had found the flue that vents outside of the chimney while the stove was cold Monday night (since it wasn't very cold here) and decided to see if this would be a good home. It musta been like heaven. A long dark tunnel into a very spacious and comfy "cavity" being the actual woodstove!

Anyways, after having Crystal take a few pictures
I placed the squirrel securely in a wood pile out of the cold wind and hoped he wake up soon enough and find another nest.

He wasn't back in the stove today so I guess he figured it out!

09 January 2007

The 1st snow of 2007

It's Tuesday the 9th of January 2007 at approximately 10:20 PM and it is snowing. It's been snowing here for about 15 minutes. We got some flurries early today but nothing substantial, not that this is at all substantial, but it is trying to lay. I wonder if the grocery stores have any bread and milk left? LOL...why do people here always freak out when winter weather is here and go buy bread and milk? Always thought that very strange.

From the basement porch overlooking the front yard.

And Sage isn't quite sure what to think...she was barking at the snow earlier.

It occurs to me how much fun I'll have next winter when I can take the boy out and play in the snow for his first time.....

08 January 2007

1st weekend of 2007

Crystal and I were able to sneak out of town on Friday and travel to Knoxville, Tennessee. We got there late, around 10 PM, and were warmly greeted by the Phillips'! We got to chat and catch up before heading to bed later that night. On Saturday morning we all got up and got ready and headed out for a day together.

Breakfast was devoured at the closest Cracker Barrel and then we headed south to Chattanooga, Tennessee. Rodney got us to Chattanooga, but he didn't quite make his "record" time of 45 minutes! Today was more around the average of an hour and a half. We went to Chattanooga to go to the Tennessee Aquarium. What an amazing place! If you enjoy fish, aquariums, wildlife, or simply getting out and seeing all the amazing creatures that we share the Earth with, you owe it to yourself to see this place.

There are two different displays to immerse yourself in. We started with the River Journey. Basically the aquarium is setup to take you from the high mountain streams and creeks on your journey towards the ocean.

So, naturally for Rodney and I, we began where we are most at home, up in the mountains chasing trout. And they sure have an impressive habitat created for our favorite fish.

Here's the gang in front of some more trout minus Rod since he was being the camerman.

And Crystal was able to catch me mesmerized by the school...

Moving further down thru the exhibit, Crystal caught a grey and a green tree frog staring at each other...
and some turtles and an egret overlooking some carp and small alligators!

On the lower levels, an aquarium diver was "hard at work" hand feeding the fish including this enormous catfish!

Ever seen one of these? These fish are some of the oldest species that still exist today around the world and in America. I was able, while living and working in Montana, to actually get to handle one of these amazing fish. They re known as sturgeon and there are many subspecies in existance.

The River Journey exhibit has "Rivers of the World". They showcase river systems of the world and these Mandarin ducks are found in Japan.

After finishing the "River Journey" you still have an entire different exhibit to view. This is known as the "Ocean Journey" and as the name implies, takes you on a journey through the ecosystems of the worlds oceans and creatures. Hyacinth macaws welcomed us into their habitat.
There is also a butterfly exhibit to see many different species and they have their own butterfly "farm".

A crab says hello...

and, while beautiful, I would not want to see this if I were a diver!

After finishing our tour of the Tennessee Aquarium, we headed around the block and took in some local shops, including my crew leader Jim's, long time friend's, Roger Wright, fudge shop, the Fudge Wrights, located adjacent to the aquarium. If you go, stop in and say hello! From here we walked over to the Big River Grille and Brewing Works for lunch. Sadly, at least for Crystal and Erin, their favorite Dookies suffered their first loss of the season to Virginia Tech, while the Tarheel fans of the group tried not to rub it in too bad.

After a nice day in Chattanooga it was time to head back to Knoxville for Crystal and I to check into our B&B for the night, also made possible by our hosts Rodney and Erin (last year they gave us a gift certificate for our wedding to stay here!) The room that we had was the Oak Suite at the Maple Grove Inn. This bed and breakfast was originally built in 1799 and turned into a B&B in 1993. Crystal and I got there, checked in, and learned that we were the only guests to be there that night. Not only that, we were gonna be the only people there that night! It is a little spooky to be somewhere you've never been, in a house that is 206 years old, and be all by yourself. We had a great time and it was a really nice place. We got all cleaned up and met Rodney, Erin, and Dylan once again to go out and get some supper. We chose Calhoun's, partly because it has great food and partly because it has it's own brewery with excellent beer and Rodney and I just happen to go camping and fishing with the head brewmaster!

Sadly we had to say goodnight and goodbye to the Phillips' and head home the next day to head back to Wilkes County, but we had a great trip with great friends and what a way to kick off the new year. Here's to many more!

Until next time...

02 January 2007

The New Year

Happy New Year folks! It's hard to believe that another year has come and gone already.

2006 was an eventful year for us. We were fortunate enough to find and purchase our first home (after searching for the past year), and even purchase the first "brand new" vehicle that either of us had ever had. Crystal completed her "contract" with Baptist for her on the job training requirements. Two great friends were united in marriage and new friends saw their little girl arrive. This year also saw my 30th birthday along with the news that we will be welcoming our first child this year (in May), a boy! And two other friends found out that they are expecting their second child.

While I am certain that the new year will be different than anything I've ever known, I look forward to the joys and challenges it brings. Here's to 2007!